The author cradles one of his many pike

In 2021, Saskatchewan’s Reindeer Lake was a fishing hot spot—in more ways than one


The author and his new personal-best northern

The second day out on the water was also broiling, but again, the fish appeared unaffected, typified by guest Dean Buse, from Kelowna, B.C. (there were no Americans in camp, I should note, due to the pandemic travel restrictions at the time). Trolling in just 11 feet of water, Dean nabbed what would be the largest laker caught during our visit—an impressive 52-pounder, his new personal best. So much for the fish going deep.

Ted and I also continued to catch fish on the second day, lakers mostly, but no giants. That mattered not, though, as we were having a blast, sharing jokes, tall tales and a whole lot of laughs with Zach as we explored the lake, pushed along in our Crestliner by a speedy 50-horse Yamaha (yet another awesome lodge feature). Plus, as I said, we were catching fish.


By day three, the heatwave finally broke and the temperature settled to a more seasonal high in the mid-teens, complete with a few showers, leading Ted and I to finally unpack and don our raingear. We focused on lake trout for the day, and while I didn’t make the leader board back at camp, I did catch what would be my largest laker of the trip, a respectable 15-pounder. And although most of the many trout we caught that day were small, it at least revealed Reindeer enjoys a healthy recruitment of new year classes.

Guide Zach Dunning (left) smiles as the author holds a 15-pound laker

On our fourth and final day of fishing, we decided to concentrate solely on catching northerns on the fly, so Zach took us to one of his choice hot spots. He called it the “Hog Barn,” a wide channel clogged with islands of floating muskeg, which turned out to be veritable pike magnets—big time.

You know when you fully intend to count each and every fish you catch, but soon lose track? It was one of the mornings. There were dozens of hammer handles, for sure, to the point we were yanking our flies await from the smaller followers. But there were also many larger fish, including 40-inch-plus specimens. I have to admit, I’ve never been one for routinely weighing or measuring my catches before releasing them, but since Zach was keen on the idea, we taped all our larger fish.


By noon, the wind had picked up, with gusts exceeding 30 kilometres an hour. That soon made it too dicey for two guys to be fly casting big streamers from the same boat, so Ted and I switched to our spinning and baitcasting gear. On we fished, picking apart promising-looking clefts and edges along the muskeg until—wham!—a clearly big fish slammed my glow-coloured #5 Mepps, my go-to lure for big uneducated northerns.

In short order, I had the pike in the livewell as Zach got out his tape and Ted readied the camera. As I said, I rarely measure my fish, so when this pike stretched the tape to 45½ inches, I decided to make it my personal-best northern moving forward. And as I’d later find out, it would also tie the lodge record for our group of anglers.


With photos taken and the pike safely swimming away, I took a moment to rest and just enjoy being in the moment, gazing at the rugged shoreline studded with jack pine, birch, black spruce and poplar, where a watchful bald eagle sat sentry. Overhead, Arctic terns wheeled and ospreys cruised past, looking for their next meal. It was the north country as I’d always known it, cool and fresh and wild. I looked at Ted and we both smiled. “Now that’s more like it,” I said, and cast my lure once more into the cold waters of Reindeer Lake.

Outdoor Canada editor-in-chief Patrick Walsh is looking forward to his next northern adventure.


In 1949, a geologist for Hudson Bay Mining and Smelting Co., Fred Lockhart, was flying his bush plane over 230-kilometre-long Reindeer Lake when he decided to drop in for a closer look. Standing on one of his plane’s pontoons, he cast out and promptly caught a 12-pound lake trout. Lockhart was instantly smitten, and made it his life’s mission to build a fishing lodge on the lake, which he did on Dewdney Island, using logs hewn from the surrounding forest. And to make it easier for his monied clientele from the U.S. to visit, he also constructed the 1,500-metre runway on nearby Malcolm Island. In 1958, Lockhart welcomed the inaugural guests to Reindeer Lake’s first-ever fishing lodge.

(Left) Chef Ryan Cain; (right) lodge owners Kelly and Andrea Littlechilds

While the fishing remains impressive, a lot has changed since then. One of the lodges, hence the name Arctic Lodges, is no longer in the fold, but the main operation on Dewdney continues, albeit now under different owners. In 2003, Ray and Jan Littlechilds purchased the lodge from Lockhart and his wife, Linda. That deal more than fulfilled Ray’s dream of owning a cabin on Reindeer, where he worked for three years as a conservation officer back in the 1980s. The Littlechilds continued to grow the business, and in 2014, their son, Kelly, and his wife, Andrea, grabbed the reins.

For Kelly and Andrea, their goal is to not only put their guests on fish, but to also ensure they have an incredible northern experience. To that end, they maintain a one-to-one staff-guest ratio to guarantee everyone’s needs are fully met—and that includes hearty breakfasts, traditional shorelunches and a choice of awesome gourmet dinners. Says Kelly: “I know most of our guests are there to fish, but it truly adds to the experience to have amazing food and staff.”

(Left) inside the main lodge; (right) one of the 10 cozy guest cabins

Typically, the lodge hosts 16 anglers at a time in its 10 cozy log cabins, which are configured for two, four or six guests, complete with private washrooms and wood-burning stoves. Corporate groups of 30 people can also be accommodated, and some additional new cabins are currently under construction. Meals are taken in the main A-frame lodge, where there’s also a well-stocked bar, tackle shop, pool table, dart board, poker table, satellite TV and lounge for evening get-togethers when guests are not otherwise outside around the fire pit.

Of course, it’s the fishing that’s the main attraction, with the lodge maintaining impeccable fishing rigs manned by highly knowledgeable and capable guides. New for this season? Suspension seats in the boat. And along with pike and lake trout, guests can also go after abundant Arctic grayling and walleye, making for a true grand slam of northern fish.

Find out more about Saskatchewan’s Arctic Lodges at